The new switch, the Nexus 5020, is the first in the Nexus 5000 series. It's the second in a larger line of Nexus switches that combine storage, switching, management, virtualization and security into one box, and another step on the road to bringing more and more server functions into the network.
Some of these storage, virtualization and management capabilities in Nexus switches have rarely been included in traditional networking equipment. That means that Cisco, which announced a slew of data center partnerships Monday, will also be competing with those same companies who are also partners.
In order to push its vision of data center networking, Cisco must work carefully not to alienate companies like EMC and VMware that Cisco will both need to work with while at the same time holding them at arm's length as competitors.
"This isn't necessarily just about connectivity, storage or computing, but about control of the data center," Yankee Group analyst Zeur Kerravala said in an interview. "The computing and network silos have traditionally been very strong and have had very little overlap, but the management overlay that will orchestrate the services is up for grabs."